Why are Muslims more religious? A CNN Editorial


By Richard Allen Greene, CNN

(CNN) – Every religion has its true believers and its doubters, its pious and its pragmatists, but new evidence suggests that Muslims tend to be more committed to their faith than other believers.

Muslims are much more likely than Christians and Hindus to say that their own faith is the only true path to paradise, according to a recent global survey, and they are more inclined to say their religion is an important part of their daily lives.

Muslims also have a much greater tendency to say their religion motivates them to do good works, said the survey, released over the summer by Ipsos-Mori, a British research company that polls around the world.

Islam is the world’s second-largest religion – behind Christianity and ahead of Hinduism, the third largest. With some 1.5 billion followers and rising, Islam’s influence may be growing even faster than its numbers as the Arab Spring topples long-reigning secular rulers and opens the way to religiously inspired political parties.

But while there’s no doubt about the importance of Islam, experts have different theories about why Muslims appear to be more religious than members of other global faiths – and contrasting views on whether to fear the depth of Muslims’ commitment to their faith.

One explanation lies in current affairs, says Azyumardi Azra, an expert on Islam in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim majority country.

Many Muslims increasingly define themselves in contrast with what they see as the Christian West, says Azra, the director of the graduate school at the State Islamic University in Jakarta.

More than nine out of 10 Muslims said their faith was important in their lives, while the figure was 86% for Hindus and 66% for Christians.

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  1. Zia H. Shah

    Adversity makes people more religious and that may be part of the reason, why Muslims seeing political turmoil all over the Muslim world are more religious.

    Another point to consider for the non-Muslims is to weigh the possibility that there may be greater element of truth in Islam compared to the other religions, so Muslim’s belief is not like Christmas emphasis on imaginary Santa Claus but something much deeper, rooted deeply in their consciousness and daily experience.

  2. Zia H. Shah

    Some food for thought

    I am quoting here from the original CNN article:

    The third majority Muslim country in the study is Turkey, which has a very different relationship with religion. It was founded after World War I as a legally secular country. But despite generations of trying to separate mosque and state, Turkey is now governed by an Islam-inspired party, the AKP.

    Turkey’s experience shows how difficult it can be to untangle government and religion in Muslim majority countries and helps explain the Muslim commitment to their religion, says Azyumardi Azra, the Indonesia expert.

  3. Zia H. Shah

    My ideas about separation of Mosque-Church and State

    To pretend that Islam has nothing to say about politics, human rights or economics is fraught with error and likely to backfire, as we have seen in the Turkish experience.

    On the other hand by acknowledging that Islam has stood for and should continue to stand for the highest ideals of individual human dignity and freedom of religion, we can not only enlightens the Muslims but also the non-Muslims.

    Here is my collection of articles about Religion, politics and human rights:


  4. Zia H. Shah

    How to achieve separation of Mosque-Church and State
    To share my insight as to how separation of Mosque-Church and State will be achieved in the Muslim Countries, let me first quote from the original CNN Editorial:

    “He notes that there has been no ‘Enlightenment’ in Islam as there was in Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries, weakening the link between church and state in many Christian countries.

    ‘Muslim communities have never experienced intense secularization that took place in Europe and the West in general,’ says Azra. ‘So Islam is still adhered to very strongly.'”

    This quote implies two things, firstly a suggestion that Muslim countries may need to follow the course of Europe. Secondly, by minimizing the role of Islam in daily life we will achieve separation of Mosque-Church and State.

    I will suggest the opposite. Firstly, Muslim countries will have a separate and different course to achieve the desired goal of Separation of Mosque-Church and State. Secondly, rather than minimizing Islam, it should be used as a force or tool, if you will, to achieve the separation and enshrining human dignity and individual religious freedom. As the golden verse that emphasizes religious freedom in the Holy Quran, ‘there is no compulsion in religion,’ follows physically and metaphorically the crown verse of the Holy Quran (2:256), which emphasizes special attributes of the Almighty God!

  5. James Landrum

    Islam is a male dominated religion. In it, women are, at best, second class beings (in most Islamist countries they can’t even vote). Violence against women is rampant, tolerated and at times encouraged. The religion appears strongest in countries where there is widespread poverty and state-sponsored terrorism, where religion is used to teach hatred and violence. The ignorant are usually “more religious”.

  6. James Landrum

    Yes, plenty of violence in both. But you would think that we’d have progressed at least a little in the past several thousand years. Seems lessons are hard learned.

  7. James Landrum

    For clarification, though I don’t necessarily view organized religion as the cause of group violence, it is almost always used as justification for it. And that goes for ALL organized religions.

  8. anwar, a proud American.

    Chritian Hitler killed 6 millions Jews, mostly ,non-combatant men, women & children.
    Christian Serbs raped 50,000 women, killed 200,000 men & displaced several million Bosnians.
    Is this Bible/Christ’s teaching ?
    Mr Lundrum,you live in a glass house. Dont throw stones at others.
    You will never understand that Islam is a complete code of life, covering both religious & secular aspects of life.
    Time & space does not allow me to discuss the Biblicl teaching & status of women in Chritian countries.

  9. James Landrum

    Who said I was a christian? I’m not. And Hitler certainly wasn’t. There is plenty of genocide to go around, and there are mass graves all around the planet to prove it. I don’t think it’s limited to any one religion.

  10. James Landrum

    Thanks, interesting article. Guess the lesson didn’t take with the Moors in Spain.

  11. Zia H. Shah

    Moors did establish a multi-religious society for several centuries.

    Rather than quibbling about minor details, the more important issue is to examine the foundation of religious tolerance in different scriptures, cultures or civilizations. I posted an article today, An invitation to other religions: demonstrating human rights and Universal Brotherhood from their scriptures:


  12. James Landrum

    Yes, you are correct re the moors, sorry, my mistake. Though I will have to say that I would think it more important to talk about religious tolerance in actual practice in the world today instead of writings thousands of years old.

    But, if this is a purely theoretical discussion, then the Quran at 1300 years old, the Torah at 3300 years old, and the Hindu Veda’s at 3500 years old would, I guess, be the main ones – what others would you consider pertinent?

  13. Zia H. Shah

    Is it not time for the agnostics and atheists to hold an Ecumenical Council and come up with their Bible or Constitution and share with the world, a shared foundation of their morality and ethics?

    Otherwise their tall claims to morality and ethics, to the theist at least, seem merely shifting sand!

  14. James Landrum

    See : Atheism: A Philosophical Justification by Michael Martin
    and Buddhism Without Beliefs by Stephen Batchelor

    And I don’t claim to be more moral than you, I leave that up to the religions themselves that each claim to be the exclusive path to some eternal existence.

  15. Zia H. Shah

    Thank you for sharing these books. I will try to get to these.

    But, ultimately these books may turn out to be one person’s opinion.

    What my hope is to have agnostics and atheists to give us a common official position, so we could examine the merits or limitations of their position in a pragmatic fashion; rather than one atheist at a time versus two billion Christians or 1.5 billion Muslims at a time.

    Additionally, they will themselves nullify a lot of fluff created by each other. For example, Bertrand Russell, is more candid than some of the contemporary atheists. He wrote in a Free Man’s Worship:

    “That Man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labors of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of Man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins—all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.”

    The modern atheists are not so candid about relationship between atheism and purpose of life and universe.

    Best Regards!

  16. James Landrum

    ah yes, “the soul”. I have to say that I’m quite content to go about my life here on earth, without causing harm to anyone else, enjoying those around me, and enjoying whatever uncertain amount of time I have here, without a requirement for eternal life or salvation or to worship another being.

    I work hard, to feed and care for my family, and share what I can with those in need. I enjoy intellectual stimulation and discussion, and am reasonably well educated. I live in a country in which I am free to live as I please. I’m happy living my life in what I feel is the best way I can.

    I already have a published set of rules for “my beliefs”, they are contained in the laws of the United States, and the published findings of real science. These published writings, combined with my personal experiences over the decades I’ve been alive are what I live by. Seems more than sufficient for me.

  17. Zia H. Shah

    Let us call it a truce here and meet in a different thread!

    Best Regards!

  18. Human Ape

    From a previous comment: “greater element of truth in Islam”

    Actually Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and every other cult ever invented is completely false. It’s all childish magical supernatural nonsense. Any sane person knows there’s no magic in the universe therefore there’s no magical Allah or magical God. 21st century science has repeatedly shown that supernatural is not necessary and just plain stupid.


  19. James Landrum

    Peace. Enjoyed it.

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